THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™ Co-Founders, Megan Boswell and Corinne Neil recently joined James Kademan , host of the Authentic Business Adventures Podcast series for a rolicking and candid hour in the studio to share their start-up story, their decision to be female-focused despite lots of advice to do otherwise, and how a night out with the gals for a glass a wine can be rich ground to uncover your next business idea. READ MORE & LISTEN IN…
Forget the flexible desk… how about a flex apartment, co-working, and fitness membership in countries around the world AND a platform to promote your independent work style from wherever you are. THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™ and Behere are making it possible to live + work in inspiring cites around the world one month at a time. Together, these two organizations are building community and empowering a dynamic freelance lifestyle.
THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™ is a powerhouse talent collective of WOMEN CONSULTANTS who offer professional services to businesses. The platform offers a searchable online directory and targeted resources to help create an ecosystem and an infrastructure for the future of work. Behere is the platform for women to live in cities around the world, without long-term contracts or obligations. The members-only platform provides access to carefully curated furnished apartments, workspaces and fitness studios for the growing population of women seeking alternative frameworks to live, work and travel.
THE JILLS Co-founders, Megan AC Boswell and Corinne Neil, caught up with Behere Cofounder and CEO, Meesen Brown to chat about female forward businesses, flexible workstyles on an international scale, and the future of work, and some of the best countries for living and working. READ MORE…
Co-Founders of the recent startup, THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™, Megan and Corinne have been building portfolio careers over the past 25 years that have taught them to work smarter, live fuller, and carve their own niche. Here they share some of their learning.
Find a community. Working solo is great, but not if you’re siloed. The promotional power of a community will put a spotlight on you more than you can independently. So find your people, know your tribe, meetup, chat, join a board, volunteer, play a sport, coach, take a class. It’s imperative for your personal and professional growth that you find a place of belonging - somewhere you can make a contribution. It is foundational, and can be the basis of establishing meaningful work.
Foster collaboration, not competition. There’s no corporate ladder to climb and no glass ceilings to shatter in your portfolio career so embrace this new work paradigm and shift the metaphor. There’s only space for one person at a time on that ladder anyway! Instead start lifting and linking others, and let your work life have the breadth and exploration of rock climbing, not ladder climbing. Mountains offer more; there’s more to see, more to explore, more to discover. So help someone find a new path, reach out your hand in someone’s aid, support a colleague from the bottom as you watch their ascent. Why? Because it feels great, and it’s more likely that they’ll do the same for you. You know what they say about that rising tide, all ships float. Plus those blue skies while you’re climbing together are just so much better than any ceiling, glass, or otherwise.
Connect by knot-working versus networking. Think about it. The best work comes when we don’t even feel like we’re working. The idea of knot-working is to truly build authentic relationships in authentic ways, well beyond passing out business cards at happy hours and adding people to LinkedIn. So make friends. Share your work. Tell your family about what you do. Display it. Write about it. Let others engage in it and engage with you. The power of personal connections is what builds sustainable professional relationships, so give knot-working a try. It might be exactly what you want from your portfolio career.
Establish an accountability partner. For real. Having weekly check-ins, on the phone or in-person, can totally change the time you spend working. Set goals together. Create timelines. Make lists. Then support each other. Offer feedback. Learn to receive suggestions and critiques. And be generous to each other.
Set boundaries. You’re juggling this portfolio of work presumably so that you are empowered to determine how you work, when you work, and what projects you want to take on. Portfolio careers are all about reconfiguring the work + life equation over and over to create the best you. In order to do this, take the time, every year, every month, or whenever it makes sense to write down your personal policies for work and your rules for engagement. Seriously, write them down. Post them predominantly. Return to them often. Share them with your accountability partner. Then stick to them.
The portfolio career truly offers the promise of establishing the right work life balance for you. But be patient, good work takes time to build.
We Didn’t Set Out to Be Entrepreneurs. Why Steadying the Scales of Work-Life Balance Compelled Two Women to StartUp.
Megan and I did not necessarily set out to be entrepreneurs.
Megan build an amazing career in fashion and design, climbed the corporate ladder to executive positions in prestigious organizations, shaped brands that changed an industry, traveled the world, was granted patents, was featured on Oprah, made movies, and even dreamed up experiential cruise ship voyages. She earned a top salary, and was beloved by her staff and colleagues. Her nurturing and generous spirit extended through her leadership where she taught many, especially women, to fully embrace the ampersand and be powerful & feminine, direct & kind, humorous & focused, collaborative & independent.
As life changed, as it’s so apt to do, Megan did too.
Children grew, relocations happened, new interests developed. There was downsizing. And Megan found herself contemplative and eager for a brand new dress to wear, one that could bring her closer to a work-life balance so she could soak up more time with her husband, 3 teenaged children, and her extended family living in different states. She eventually styled her own independent and successful brand strategy and design consultancy business, and after nearly 30 years of leading multimillion dollar projects and being 'traditionally' employed, Megan was now using her talents and skills so she could work when she wanted, how she wanted, and on projects that mattered to her. A flexible schedule with a variety of projects and hand-picked clients suited her as an encore career.
My career story was much more of an 'adapt and go' kind of set-up from the beginning. I loved to teach, I was good at it, and I used it to satisfy my taste for travel, spending the early part of my career in both the Middle East and Europe. When I moved to the US from Canada, I found myself in Austin, TX where I decided to redirect my talents for teaching and writing to an educational publishing company instead of the classroom, and exchange my evenings of grading papers for night classes to earn my massage therapy license - something I’d wanted to do since high school.
But before long, I too, decided to step out of corporate and embark on what I know see as my portfolio career working as an independent: writing, teaching, and educating. Because besides being wearied by the corporate ladder that only one person can climb at a time, there also came pregnancies that were tougher than imagined, relocations, and superhero mom and dad manoeuvres to ensure one of us was always home with our boys - a portfolio career made sense to me. There just wasn’t a name for it then.
Together, Megan and I have a very unique 360 degree view of work. We know both sides of being an independent and working in corporate. We see the possibilities, opportunities, and struggles of both. We know stay-at-home parenting, we know being working mothers. We’ve lived re-entry and are always re-entering so we can routinely adjust the work + life equation. Megan shattered glass ceilings. I stayed off the ladder. We know the merits and downfalls of each.
And we know the world of work is changing. And so do you. You’ve seen the statistics; read the headlines. 70% of us will work freelance in the next 10 years. Lifetime employment is over. The gig economy is the new economy. It’s a Freelance Nation. Our work will come from our alliances, not recruiters, and not employers.
So no, we didn’t necessarily set out to be entrepreneurs.
But after nearly 30 combined years of trying to steady the scales of work-life balance, we’re compelled to be.
We’re turning directly to the problems felt by both the independents and the hiring clients in this gig economy and creating a solution. And it is our combined 360 degree view, and our lifetime of experiences that make us uniquely qualified to take on the challenge. We’ve lived the problems, see a path to a solution, and know it’s time for us to step up and lead a workforce revolution.
Join us on our journey.
Because we know in our core that when women come together, link arms, and lift each other up we have the power to change everything.
Nope, not that Pitch Perfect. And our pitch was DEFINITELY not perfect, But it was a perfect way for THE JILLS to kick off our start-up adventure...
Before we had a name, before we had a clear business model, before we had a logo, or a website, or a customer, we had an idea that we believed really mattered - women entrepreneurs needed to be lifted and linked to create a powerhouse workforce for the future.
We'd spent a summer out 'talking' to people; solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, business leaders and business owners to help us shape and validate some of our thinking. And in all of our chatting on phones and meeting in coffee shops, we learned about an opportunity - The Doyenne Group's 5X5X5 event - a pitch contest for women at the annual Madison ForwardFest. The Doyenne Group offered pre-pitch training to 5 women entrepreneurs and a chance to win a $5000 grant based on a 5 minute pitch at a breakfast event.
We scrambled to get our application in on a tight deadline, and did cartwheels (well... metaphoric cartwheels, we're too old for any of that carry-on) when we learned we were one of the five finalists. Our adventure had begun, and we bravely stepped in, created our first pitch, stood in front of a crowd and gave our first public presentation of THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™.
And no, we didn't win the money. But we did win.
We learned invaluable information about giving a pitch. We meet incredible women entrepreneurs who were further along than us, who shared their stories, offered us encouragement, and gave us the gift of feedback. We got mentioned in local media. We were welcomed by a community of supporters and champions of women's entrepreneurship. And we met JILLS. Lots of them.
We learned that 5 minutes is a really short amount of time, but it's enough to put yourself out there and start to build the relationships you need to power a workforce revolution.
Candy Phelps, owner of iCandy Graphics, shared her gorgeous office space in Madison's Atwood neighborhood for our event, and her husband, Tim Phelps, owner of SPROUT Landscaping donated materials for all of us make tiny succulent fridge magnets. While Candy gave a craft demo, she offered up SEO tips from her book Grow Your SEO to a group of eager JILLS members, who listened, chatted and put soil into teeny tiny pots for their succulents.
New friendships were made, future coffee dates were set, lots of website revisions were considered. Candy was able to meet with potential future contractors for her business and more JILLS had an opportunity to share their talents and connect with the business community.
A 'Crafternoon' - a great way to combine and little learning with community building
As founders of THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™, we are the lucky ones out and about talking up and spotlighting the myriad talents of the amazing women who join the THE JILLS GALLERY. We get to boast on these solopreneurs who coach, strategize, design, present, educate, build, create, and collaborate with incredible grace, integrity, and expertise.
They make our jobs so easy.
On this fair summer evening, we enjoyed an evening of Jazz on the rooftop of the Madison Baird office as the guests of Meg Prestigiacomo. We connected with women of all ages and backgrounds - business leaders, political advocates, corporate CEOs, small business owners, educators, and philosophers. They were thrilled about THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™, and were eager to spread the word. They all recognized the power of linking up to lift each other higher.
To all of the JILLS and all the future JILLS, thank you for letting us shine a spotlight on your awesomeness.